The San Francisco is a metropolitan complex in the Bay Area of the California Free State. Though not the capital of the CFS (that would be Sacramento), it is a highly important city, being the country's economic and cultural nexus since the loss of Los Angeles in 2046. Years of conflict have shaped the sprawl, and it has changed regimes several times through the wars it has seen over the last five decades. When it comes to understanding the balance of power in San Francisco today, think of this history.
The UCAS Abandons California (2036)
After the Ghost Dance War, the United States and Canada attempted to consolidate their remaining power by forming the United Canadian and American States in 2030. Much of North America was now under control of the Native American Nations, and the vast majority of UCAS territory was in the east, leaving its ability to protect California from the new regional powers tenuous at best. When the Confederate States of America seceded from the UCAS in 2034, this hold became even weaker, and the UCAS ultimately decided to abandon it.
The mysterious new Tir Tairngire was the first nation to recognize the CFS as an independent nation, though this appears to have been to avoid any conflict with the UCAS prior to its invasion of Redding, at which point it laid claim to territory in the north that remains contested today. The fighting has been at a standstill since 2053, when Hestaby appeared to the world at Mt. Shasta and demanded both sides put an end to the fighting. Aztlan simultaneously invaded from the south and captured San Diego, and the Japanese Imperial State occupied San Francisco to protect Japanese business interests, though it did not annex it.
During this time, the JIS occupying force of two regiments of imperial marines under the command of Colonel Keiji Saito enforced a no-metahumans policy in line with Japanese law. Non-corporate metahumans were deported to the East Bay, most typically Oakland, which became a barrens scarcely able to hold the flood of migrants.
The CFS Loses Los Angeles (2045-2046)
In 2045, an offshore nuclear reactor experienced a catastrophic meltdown, and a radioactive tidal wave struck Los Angeles. Despite the disaster killing thousands and rendering parts of the city uninhabitable, no help came from Sacramento. The next year, a hacker group deleted the results of the gubernatorial election, and Sacramento responded by sending the California Rangers and several thousand mercenaries to root out the hackers at gunpoint. A massacre ensued, and over 20,000 civilians were killed in only two days. After it became clear this operation was a colossal failure, Sacramento recalled the remaining units that didn't quit in disgust. Los Angeles requested help cleaning up the mess afterward, and Sacramento responded by disowning the city, declaring it independent. It would remain independent until the Pueblo Corporate Council annexed it in 2061 following the devastating earthquakes along the Pacific Rim. Consequently, San Francisco became the economic center of the California Free State; while many megacorporations had their California offices in San Francisco already, some businesses had to move their operations out of LA.
The Protectorate Era (2061-2067)
Another consequence of the 2061 Pacific Rim earthquakes was the death of Japan's imperial family. Only one family member survived to claim the throne, a young boy who was promptly installed as emperor. He immediately began making reforms, notably including the end of Japan's metahuman internment policy in which all non-humans were shipped to a single island in the Pacific for containment. The new regime also recalled Saito's regiments to assist in evacuations and repairs in the homeland. Colonel Saito refused the order, instead choosing to invade the rest of the CFS and declare himself Protector-General of a new nation he called the California Protectorate. He doubled down on anti-metahuman fascism and ushered in an era of horrendous human rights abuses and war crimes. Whereas metahumans had previously been deported to Oakland, they now were being captured, tortured, mass-executed, and/or deported throughout California.
Saito's control of California was not total; he had avoided picking fights with megacorporations where possible such as refusing to invade Silicon Valley, an Ares Macrotechnology stronghold. His regiments were further stymied by civilian opposition, what remained of the California Rangers in Sacramento, and the threat of the PCC now in control of Los Angeles. To make matters worse, Crash 2.0 happened in 2064. He eventually reached a point where he needed to consolidate his hold before making further advances, which he did with the tacit support of the Japanese megacorps, who did not want to be publicly involved at this point since Saito's conquest was uncertain. San Francisco had been his unit's historical stronghold, and it was relatively unaffected by the earthquakes, so he began rebuilding much of the East Bay during this time. The disparate resistance factions attempted to form a united front, and the various militias, gangs, and crime syndicates that had been fighting the ground war eventually gained the support of Mothers of Metahumans, Ares Macrotechnology, the PCC, and more. Hestaby ensured Tir Tairngire would remain fully neutral. With military and financial support, the resistance launched an offensive that led to Saito's withdrawal in 2067.
The SF Metroplex (2068-present)
In the years following the war, the cities of the Bay Area began the slow process of reconstruction. First, they consolidated into a united metropolitan complex that included all of the cities in the Bay Area, divided into several districts. Next, they began hiring corporate contracts for city services. Naturally, Ares was given considerable favor despite the sprawl's long history of preference for Japanese businesses. Despite this, the undisputed biggest power in town was Mitsuhama, which would later go on to attain the #1 ranking in the corporate court. The newly formed Evo Corporation leveraged its reputation as a metahuman-friendly, technically non-Japanese corporation to claim construction contracts, which it still enjoys quite a bit of. Wuxing, Incorporated bought up all the shipping and international travel it could, though Mitsuhama notably has a monopoly on rail systems still.
While the megacorporations claimed their shares of the new market, non-corporate factions of the resistance coalition felt betrayed by the terms of the peace. Saito had escaped with his life, and many war criminals remained in power in the city, hiding behind corporate extraterritoriality and the wall of silence that had been maintained by the Japanese megas. Ares had no interest in picking a fight with them, having expanded its local power; neither did the Pacific Prosperity Group (Wuxing, Evo, Aztechnology, and a bunch of non-Japanese Pacific Rim corporations). The PCC had annexed the Ute Nation and some territory that had previously belonged to the CFS, and it was satisfied with its gains. Some groups such as Mothers of Metahumans and the Metahuman People's Army continue fighting to expose, harass, and eliminate war criminals and corporate authority in the SF sprawl today, but they do not have the support they once did. Nevertheless, they have money, weapons, experience, ambition, and no qualms hiring shadowrunners.
The San Francisco Metroplex is divided into five districts, as follow.
The Downtown district is made of San Francisco proper, AKA the borders of San Francisco in real life today. It is where Mitsuhama, Shiawase, Renraku, Aztechnology, and Wuxing have their corporate HQs, and it is a fairly affluent high-security zone in general. There are pockets of exceptions to this, but it is generally pretty well-off. If you're a tourist, this is probably where you're gonna go. Come see Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, Ghirardelli Square, and more!
Beginning in South San Francisco (a separate city) and stretching southward through Palo Alto, the South City district is notably home to freight companies, the San Francisco Airport, and Stanford University. Though not as opulent as Downtown, many middle-class and relatively high-class residents live here, especially up in the hills. There is a class contrast between the freight workers and the academics associated with Stanford, but it's not a barrens by any stretch of the imagination.
The Silicon Valley district is made of the Bay Area cities like Cupertino and San Jose that were historically home to the tech startups that later became industry giants, such as Apple and Google. Today, it is firmly under the control of Ares Macrotechnology, which continues this tradition in its own way. This district is largely made of manufacturing plants, and there is a wide contrast of security ratings for individual neighborhoods, from standard wageslave housing to the extravagant high-rises of Ares elites.
It's kind of tough to say what Fremont is. The district has been working to establish an identity for itself since 2068, and it's sort of just "the part between Silicon Valley and Oakland." It's something of an oddity in that it's a suburb, but it's known for ethnic diversity. This is most likely due to its position between the heavily corporate Silicon Valley and the Oakland barrens. Expect to see a little of everything here, from low-end freight business to artists to plastic surgery clinics. Rumor has it Saeder-Krupp has been quietly buying up some docks here, for some reason.
The Oakland district is made of the cities of Oakland and Berkeley as well as the surrounding areas. Oakland is a true barrens, having been devastated by decades of systemic oppression and active warfare from which it has never been given the infrastructure to recover. Some of the worst fighting in the SF sprawl during the war happened here, and major portions of the district are still in disrepair. It should also come as no surprise this district has the highest metahuman population.
There are three crime syndicates of note operating in the SF metroplex.
The local yakuza clan is called the Karatsa-gumi, and it is a clan belonging to the Shotozomi-rengo. The Karatsa-gumi are known to cooperate with the Japanacorps to do their dirty work in exchange for legal, financial, and occasionally material support. Most of their holdings are Downtown, and they have virtually no presence in Silicon Valley or the East Bay; this comes after years of losing ground in the war, during which they supported Saito's regime.
Members of the Karatsa-gumi are visually distinct; their yakuza tattoos are bioluminescent, making them glow at night. They are also known to be extremely violent and cruel by yakuza standards, caring nothing for civilian casualties or any other harm or destruction they cause so long as it does not offend their corporate partners.
The main opposition to the Karatsa-gumi is the Black Chrysanthemum, a triad operating out of Downtown's Chinatown, Oakland's Chinatown, South City, and several neighborhoods in other districts. The Black Chrysanthemum quietly opposed Saito during the war, passing information to the resistance and moving into the territory the Karatsa-gumi lost as they were pushed back. They are on the rise in San Francisco.
It is worth noting that the Black Chrysanthemum has a reputation for cruelty as well, especially for its human trafficking, organ harvesting, and slavery. This is not especially visible in San Francisco; here, it mostly sticks to smuggling drugs into the continent from East Asia.
The Mafia lost a lot of ground during the war. It is most powerful in the East Bay, especially with dock and freight businesses. Unlike some mafia families, the SF mafia has large metahuman membership of all types, and they are especially popular with the orks of Oakland.
Street gangs in San Francisco typically work together with one of the syndicates. Some have alliances, and others are at war.
The Ancients used to have a major presence all along the West Coast, but it is relatively small in San Francisco. This is due to the Saito regime's particular hatred of elves, whom it hunted down and executed on the basis they could be Tir Tairngire spies. Nevertheless, the Ancients are making inroads to recover their local strength, and their alliance with the First Nation gang is helping.
A Latin gang notable for its place in the CalHot market (highly potent BTLs). In SF, the Chulos mostly deal drugs, though they have the CalHot pipeline to Seattle on lock. Rumors say they sold drugs to the Resistance during the war and have been exploiting their contacts for an edge in the market.
The Cutters in SF deal drugs in Fremont. They ran weapons to the resistance during the war and are said to have ties with the dwarven community of Halferville. The Cutters are somewhat popular as a result, but most people don't want them too close due to their shady dealings and corporate-style attitude. The Cutters have an ongoing war with the Ancients, and they are on the verge of war with the Chulos due to overlap of drug markets.
The First Nations are making inroads along with their allies the Ancients, though like the Ancients, they are not as influential here as the other street gangs. They've been smuggling weapons shipments into the city, and their alliance will be well armed in the coming conflict if not necessarily strong in numbers.
An all-ork go-gang operating out of the East Bay. The Bloody Tusks acted as couriers for the resistance during the war, and they enjoy local popularity as a result. They protect the poorest neighborhoods, for a fee, and they remember how to fight.
Metahuman People's Army
The MPA was an armed militant group formed from resistance fighters during the Protectorate era. They did a lot of fighting on the ground before and after Ares joined the resistance. Today, they have not settled down; their wrath has instead turned to the megacorps, especially MCT, Renraku, and Shiawase, whom they believe were secretly funding and supplying Saito. They hope to prove this connection. The corporations disobeying the Japanese emperor would be politically scandalous in Japan, and it would drum up more anti-corporate sentiment in San Francisco.
Mothers of Metahumans
MoM is a powerful international policlub. It is perhaps the most well-funded pro-metahuman group in the world. In California, it funneled cash to the resistance and pulled on what corporate connections it had to help them out. Today, members of MoM in San Francisco work to expose war criminals who remain unpunished.
Of course Humanis has the audacity to have a chapter in a city where a metahuman holocaust happened a decade ago. Why would you think otherwise? Humanis was sketchily absent during the Protectorate era. There are rumors it was involved secretly in some vigilante anti-metahuman terror attacks at the time, but these connections have never been proven. Publicly, Humanis' stance on the war was that Saito did nothing wrong, but they weren't involved, and so no one has any moral or legal right to oppose their presence in the city. They try to bait metahuman groups into attacking them for publicity.
|Fire Safety||Ares Fire and Safety|
|GridGuide||California Free State Rapid Transit|
|Healthcare||Bay Area Healthcare|
|Matrix Services||Ares Macrotechnology|
|Police||San Francisco Police Department|
|Prisons||Knight-Errant Security Services|
|Public Works||Evo Utilities|
The San Francisco Metroplex is connected to the other major cities of the continent by the Mitsuhama North American rail network. Rail passes between any two relatively close sprawl (such as San Francisco and Seattle, or San Francisco and Los Angeles) may be purchased for a monthly fee, though individual tickets are also for sale. This high-speed rail system is fast enough to take passengers between Seattle and San Francisco in only two hours, making it a relatively common commute. Transportation between other cities is similarly quick.
|One-Way||Round Trip||Rail Pass (Month)|
|$40 (UCAS)||$60 (UCAS)||$150 (UCAS)|
|$200 (CFS)||$300 (CFS)||$375 (CFS)|
|20 (MCT)||30 (MCT)||76 (MCT)|
|1,000¢ (AZT)||1,500¢ (AZT)||3,750¢ (AZT)|
Traveling the interstates remains an option, but it is much slower than going by rail. Travelers coming from the north are advised to keep the extensive border security of Tir Tairngire in mind - it is fairly common for shadowrunners to drive around Tir Tairngire entirely by way of the PCC, where border security is relatively loose.
There are two major commercial airports in San Francisco: San Francisco Airport, located just outside of Downtown, and the Oakland International Airport, in Oakland. Both are owned by Wuxing through subsidiaries. Since the Metroplex government was ratified, Oakland International's operations have been focused on freight traffic rather than passenger airlines despite not being re-certified for suborbital flights since the earthquake of 2069. Passenger flights will typically go to San Francisco Airport. There is also an Ares-owned airport in Silicon Valley named Silicon Valley Airport, though it is extraterritorial property and thus not taxed, hence why the metropolitan government has shifted freight traffic to Oakland even though it's farther from most destinations than Silicon Valley.
Air fare between any two cities has a cost in nuyen equal to 100 plus half the distance between them in kilometers. For example, a flight from New York City to San Francisco could cost 2,435¥.
San Francisco is a major port city built around a bay with docks all along it. Travelers from Hong Kong or Neo-Tokyo could take a trans-Pacific ship. There are also some water transportation routes from cities along the West Coast (Seattle, Vancouver, LA) and Central & South America.
Traveling by car is perfectly viable in the San Francisco Metroplex. In addition, it has a robust public transportation system including its famous railcars, rapid-transit buses, and ferries that traverse the Bay.
- Ares, the Japanacorps, and the PPG are all struggling for control of the city's market. Things are probably going to get shaken up as Ares collapses.
- The Karatsa-gumi and Black Chrysanthemum have a power balance based on that of the megacorps, so they'll probably see some fighting as that power balance shifts. The Mafia may attempt to make a move in the ensuing chaos or after both sides have exhausted themselves.
- A gang war is brewing. The Cutters are strong and liked by the locals, but they're pissing off the local Chulos at the same time they're at war with the Ancients. The Ancients, though weak now, have an alliance with the First Nations, who have a lot of weapons and are looking to expand their local presence.
- The MPA wants to drag war criminals into the light (or worse), and Mothers of Metahumans has a bunch of money towards the same goal, though they care more about optics. If these groups can work together, they might get some major work done. Either way, shadowrunners are in demand to steal old data, some of which is pre-Crash.
- Humanis is baiting people to attack it, and no one wants them around. Bash the fash, etc.
- San Francisco is full of hills and steep streets, making it hazardous for vehicle chases. On top of that, there's a giant bay in the middle of everything, so Pilot Watercraft is a pretty important skill when operating here.
- The SF sprawl is home to the regional HQs of several tech giants. There is a lot of opportunity for datasteals and heavy Matrix/drone opposition.
- A lot of munitions are floating around the city due to civilian resistance during the war, so expect street fights to get deadly. This is extra true with the syndicates having a reputation for extreme violence.
- For social encounters, note that local attitudes can be pretty radical. The war was only a few years ago, and metahumans remember what it was like, so you tend not to see much corporate apologia or people insisting the system can't be changed. It can, and they were there to make it happen. Furthermore, the metahuman communities are fairly united in their resistance to human oppression and are not so easily swayed to target other groups of metahumans.
- The most popular magic traditions aside from Hermetic and Shamanic are Wuxing (due to the large Chinese population) and Shinto (due to the large Japanese population).